Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Chessasaur's January 2017 Gaming Report

I'll be the first to admit that my blogging was thinner last year than I would have liked. While I know that few people read these random arrangements of letters (but I'm grateful to the ones that do), they give me something to look back on months/years later and go, "Gee, I forgot I did that!" It's called Getting Old. One of the things I used to do was make daily(ish) entries about whatever game I was playing that day, and while not riveting, I think it did keep me more connected to the actual process of writing.

It also made me think a bit more about the games I was playing and how many I was actually taking out of their cases (or even wrappers!). I have SO MANY GAMES that have been bought but never played. I know I own a quantity of games that would require several lifetimes to play all the way through.

But what if I just play a little of each? Is it better to experience a little of a lot of games or play all the way through a select few?

I look back on some games I've played recently, like Dishonored, and wonder if they were worth the time I put into them. At some point in most games, you get the idea of what the mechanics are and probably have a good idea of what the rest of the game is going to play like. I won't say that there aren't special moments that will be missed, but when time is scarce, maybe it needs to be rationed. Honestly, the jury is still out on that one.

Anyway, to the games I've played in January 2017:

1/1 to 1/14 - As I started this in the middle of the month, I'll have to summarize the first couple of weeks.

I finished Titanfall 2's campaign which I began back in December. While I'll never be comfortable with wall-running, I liked the combat in this very much. It was an imaginative adventure that would have gone a long way to making the game popular when the first one came out. Fighting through a giant, underground city building factory was very surreal! Only downside on the game was it was hard to a) figure out which weapons were better than others, and b) most of the Titan weapons weren't as good as the one you get initially.

I kind of jumped in with both feet when The Last Guardian was finally released. I got the special, deluxe edition and now I sort of regret it. I've have TRIED to enjoy playing this game, but it's just more frustration than I can handle. The camera control is awful and trying to figure out what to do at times is an exercise in counter-intuitive thinking. I know I could finish this game (with some help from YouTube videos), but it's not worth my time to grind through the crappy controls and capricious nature of Trico, the giant-bird-dog-thing.

1/15 - Demon Stone, Darkwatch - wanted a little PS2 retro action. Realized that I need something to upscale component to HDMI. Looks like crap on my gaming LG TV.

1/16 - FF XV - Finally got around to starting this. Spent most of the night on the tutorial which featured the carbuncle that I got from playing the demo. Interesting combat system.

1/17 - FF XV - Actually started exploring the world in this game (or at least the little section at the beginning). Missions are thrown at you very quickly, which is good, I guess, and combat is more than a little chaotic with you and 3 other people attacking all at once. This one may last until the next region is opened up, but I have a feeling it isn't really my kind of game. There's a little too much "guy" banter going on to concentrate on the game.

1/18 - FF XV - Started the night watching my favorite streamer, MANvsGAME, while he continued to torture himself with Let It Die. MAN is determined to beat it, like he does (nearly) all games he starts. The MAN has been an inspiration to me. I finally broke away and started up FF XV just so I could say I played something. I ended up learning how to fish in the game as I had to catch a fish for a starving kitty. (No way was I stopping until I fed that poor virtual cat!) What is it about JRPG's and fishing?? It's as common in these adventure games as shotguns are in FPS's! You'd think there'd be enough fishing in just the games about fishing. Also tested using the Elgato to upscale component output (from the PS2) to HDMI...and it worked! (Of note, Ico is still basically broken via component output. It does work on the Elgato, but the video is messy. Best to play it on the PS3.) I'm planning on putting it back into my setup, so I could look into going back into streaming, and retro-gaming specifically. I think that if I was to regularly stream again, it would have to be something that most streamers aren't doing. Another thing on my "to do" list is to play XCom Unknown (or Within) using American president names for the soldiers.

1/19 - More FF XV. Shit got real with the destruction of Noctis's home, Insomnia (they picked that for a city name?). Looked like several scenes from the CGI movie were spliced in, but I'll probably have to watch Kingsglaive eventually. Oh, and didn't get eaten by a giant bird creature.

1/20 - More FF XV. Trying to stick to the main story quests. Battles still feel very messy.

1/21 - Started Danganronpa Trigger Happy Havoc on Vita. Just a little of the opening. Also gave the Resident Evil 7 Teaser some more time. I've played the basic part (to the point where you use the back door key), but I knew there was more to it than that. I got to another area by opening a door that I didn't think would open, then ran into a creature that killed me. Unfortunately, the "game" doesn't have a save or checkpoint system, so that means you have to go all the way back to the beginning. I think I've had enough of it until the full RE7 comes out on Tuesday.

1/22 - Was going to play more of the RE7 Teaser...but we had a late night power outage!

1/23 - I got RE7 today (a day early?) and was going to play (and possibly stream) it tonight, but when I turned on my PS4, I ran into a bit of fallout from the power outage last night. Turns out there were updates for FF XV and Dishonored 2, both over 2gb, that didn't download earlier because the PS4 had been taken out of standby mode! I guess I could have paused/canceled them, but I usually like to have that sort of stuff just run its course. Instead, I played some of the Ico remaster on the PS3, which looks like the only place I'll be able to really run it. It's possibly the only PS2 game that doesn't play on an HD TV via component cables. Weird. When I run it through the Elgato, it works, but the video has a lot of artifacts in it. Not fun to look at. Anyway, it looks "great" on the PS3...which is to say the impact of a game like this is sadly diminished these days. When Ico was new, the environments were stunning in their size and scale. Nowadays, big gaming worlds are fairly common and while the game has been "remastered", it still isn't anywhere near the graphical quality of even a PS3 or Xbox 360 game. Even though it's not a fair comparison, it's hard not to go there. I also see where some of the design decisions for The Last Guardian started - this game is not easy to control. The hardest thing to get used to is the "rubber banding" of the camera control. Not sure why they thought that was a good idea. Anyway, I got to what I'm assuming is the first save point - a glowing sofa that Ico sits on. Neat way of doing that without taking the player out of the experience. I finished up the night with some more RE7 Teaser on the Xbox One. While I was at lunch today, I watched a streamer playing through it and found out there is a special coin you can find in the demo which carries over to the full game. I also saw some other strategies to keep from getting killed by the creature in the basement and a number of other "secrets" I didn't even know were there! Just before I turned in, I checked Twitch and saw that RE7 was the #1 streamed game with over 140,000 people watching streams. Impressive!

1/24 - I was going to start playing RE7 tonight, but decided to give the Teaser "one more try" so I'd have the extra coin for the full game. Well, thanks to the demo not telling me what the controls were, I was never able to get the 4th riddle to trigger. I knew I was supposed to do a 180 at the mirror, but had to finally Google that puzzle to find out it was down on the left stick and circle button! By that point I was in a run that made me go back into the basement and the creature got me. That was 12:35am so I figured I'd better go to bed.

1/25 - Finally got that dirty coin! (No, that's what it's really called.) I didn't make it out unscathed, so I got the Infected Ending, but that's okay. Started playing the real RE7 after that and there was a surprising amount that was the same as the "demo". Not so much in the things that I had to do, but in the environment that I was in (ie, the old house). Instead of a hapless cameraman, I'm looking for my wife, Mia, who went missing 3 years previously and just recently sent me a message to come get her at this abandoned Louisiana mansion. Decided to stream the whole thing. I might have had one person drop by for a second. Oh, well.

1/26 - Got deeply into RE7 and...who mixed P.T. and Monty Python in my Resident Evil?! Even having played the demo, this is NOT what I was expecting! Some kind of next generation Uncanny Valley antics. Note to developers: Don't make a photo-realistic game where limbs can be cut off then stapled back on! This game reeks of an established franchise that wanted to make just another streamer-shocker survival horror game. They should have just called it something else - the only thing that makes it RE is the item and puzzle mechanics. I honestly don't know if I should play more or trade it to Gamestop.

1/27 - While having some work done in the kitchen, played some of Outlander for the first time (it was an Xbox Games with Gold freebie). A colorful, responsive platformer that takes itself a bit too seriously.

1/28 - Nothing tonight. Watched CallofCthulhu's stream of RE7. Wanted to see his reaction to some of the stuff I've already seen. I guess he likes it so far, but was a little bewildered by things like limbs just being hacked off and put back on. Love how frustrated he got trying to run in the game.

1/29 - Played quite a bit of RE7. I'm getting into the game more and I have to say I appreciate the way it's respecting my time. The other day, when I "died" during a chase sequence, the game took me back to one of several "checkpoints", so I didn't have to do the whole thing over again. Then today, there was a boss battle that had me stumped and I noticed that during the post-death loading screens, it actually gave me useful advice on how to defeat him. The latest area has me fighting lots of bugs, which is creepy and, in my experience, fairly original for a horror game. Bugs aren't usually treated as actual enemies you can fight (like in melee combat), but they are doing that here.

1/30 - More RE7. Still making progress, which is all I need from a game of fairly short length. I'll admit I'm liking it now. Interestingly, I remember my initial reaction to RE4 being, "How can these people take multiple headshots and not be dead?!?", but later came to accept it as just being part of the Resident Evil way of doing horror. That's pretty much what's happening here and I'm okay with it. Considering how bad everyone says RE5 and 6 were, the series needed this keep from being put in permanent hibernation.

1/31 - The month ended on a quiet note. I wanted to do something a little different than RE7 for a night, so I tried 3 PSN freebies...all of which sucked. Kitten Squad is a twin stick shooter that looks like something for little kids. But, A) it's pretty hard, and B) since it's made by PETA, it's chock full of little factoids about how badly animals are treated. I talked to one of the quest givers, and before I left him, I got told that sheep in Australia have skin removed from their backs without any anesthetic to make shearing easier! Anyone who downloads this for their kids better be prepared for some upset children. Then I tried a game that I saw at TwitchCon, World War Toons (Beta). It's an online multiplayer shooter with cartoony characters. Started game, got killed, deleted game. Last one was a Korean MMO called Onigirl...which wanted me to create an account in order to play. Instead, I looked at some streams of it and decided it wasn't worth my time. Now if there was just a way to remove these turkeys from my PSN library listsing!

Monthly ongoing games: FFXIV (PC), Cookie Cats (iOS)

Plans for the rest of 2017 : Two things I want to do this year. 1) Read one videogame artbook each month, and 2) Play the various "Toys to Life" games I have - Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and Lego Dimensions, in that order.

And here are my game purchases for January 2017:

01/03 - Resident Evil 7 (PS4\Best Buy\$48) Preordered for 01/24. Showed up 1/23!
01/05 - Danganronpa V3 (PS4\Amazon\$48) Preordered for TBD
01/07 - Anima: Gate of Memories SE (PS4\Amazon\$40) for 03/21
01/08 - Assassin's Creed Syndicate (Xbox One\Best Buy\$8) Have for PS4, but too cheap.
01/09 - Beholder (PC\Bundle Stars\$4)
01/09 - Enrolled in 3 months of Humble Bundle Monthly ($35) and got XCom 2 for Steam.
01/10 - The Sims 3 (360\Amazon\$19). Feel like it will go BC.
01/10 - Dragon Age Origins Ultimate (360\Amazon\$25). It did go BC.
01/17 - Little Nightmares (PS4\Amazon\$28) Preordered for 05/02. Art style pulled me in.
01/20 - Monopoly Plus (PS4\PSN\$3) PSN Flash sale.
01/20 - Persona 3 Portable (Vita\PSN\$5) PSN Flash sale. Good platform for SMT games.
01/22 - Red's Kingdom (iPad\AppStore\$2) A cute animal Zelda clone...which won't run?!
01/24 - Bayonetta (PS3\Gamestop\$15) Becoming hard to find a good copy.
01/25 - NES Classic (Best Buy\$60) Does this count? Will probably go to Sarah.
01/28 - Watch Dogs 2 (PS4\Best Buy\$20) Glad I waited. Used a $5 GC to get this low.
01/30 - Skylanders Portal (360\eBay\$7) Not really a game, but adding anyway.
01/30 - RiME (PS4\Amazon\$25) Preordered for 5/31. Comes with a free map. :)
01/31 - Yakuza 0 (PS4\Best Buy\$50) Heard good things and think it might be hard to find.
01/31 - Wii U (Nintendo\$220) Refurb backup. With Switch on the way, these will be rare.

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